Perl vs Python: A Comparison
Hello, and welcome to your new coding journey! We’re excited to be a part of your learning process as you discover the amazing things you can do with programming. Now, you may have done some research into which programming languages you would like to learn; in fact, you may even be someone who’s been in the industry for a while and are looking for a switch-up in the languages you utilize. Either way, this article should provide you with some valuable information to help you make that decision.
Pulling the trigger on which programming language you’d like to learn is quite the commitment. You are investing time into something, and you want a return. You need your language to be able to handle large scale projects to whatever complexity you’re hoping to achieve. Since you’re here, you’ve most likely been considering Perl or Python as one of your options. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two and see if one of them might just be the perfect option.
Perl and the Possibilities
Perl is a feature-rich programming language with over 30 years of development.
Perl was introduced in 1987, as a language for Unix, by Larry Wall. It quickly grew in popularity as it was beginner friendly yet highly versatile. The Swiss Army Knife of programming languages in the early 2000s, everyone believed Perl may be listed among the top languages in years to come. Perl was designed for newbies. The idea behind Perl was that anyone could learn it, anyone could master it, and anyone could use it to create an amazing result.
Perl had a number of features that gave it the advantage over the market when starting out. For one, it had a sort of “cult following” of users that could create amazing code using Perl. The results of their creations were so impressive that it inspired the rise of Perl on the market. Perl also had a CPAN, or Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, allowing users to write code and share it in the Perl community. Thus, Perl became a forerunner in open-source technology — a technology that is released under an open license, allowing anyone and everyone to add, change, and improve upon the item, be it a programming language, text editor or others.
Perl today is now what makes up the core of many websites, as well as the toolboxes for other programming languages. The language boasts versatility, allowing users to code several different ways for that same effect with its motto “there’s more than one way to do it.” Perl offers a long-standing community and databases that make it the foundation for a number of websites and functions in other languages.
However, Perl is seeing some tight competition from a newer rival, Python. Python is rising in user popularity by a staggering extent. Let’s take a closer look and see if it might be a more apt choice for you too.
Python’s Path to Success
Python is a clean cut, powerful language designed by Guido Van Rossum. He began doing practical work with Python in 1989. While at first it was harder to learn and understand compared to Perl, it has been on the rise in popularity. Python is designed with the goal to have one clear path to any function you hope to write. The language allows users to quickly and efficiently write lines of code that do a lot, with very little additional coding. This means that you can do more with less coding, because Python allows its users to program in a nearly conceptual context.
Python also supports a multitude of platforms, including the most popular: Mac, Linux, and Windows. It is also an interpreted language, meaning you can compile the language once, and then run it on any platform. This allows for faster editing as you do not need to re-compile the code after making alterations.
The libraries associated with Python are also impressive. The libraries provide you with modules that you can simply plug in to your code for quick additions and no additional writing. And, since Python is open-source, there are even more plu-gins, extensions, and modules added to the libraries, and the libraries are constantly growing with new contributions. Python is also general purpose, meaning it can be used for a wide range from web to desktop applications. And, with a visually-pleasing aesthetics, Python is easy on the eyes and wonderful for visual learners.
Python or Perl: Should You Slither or Shine?
From the appearances right now, Perl and Python are about the difference of the ages. Perl was a forerunner of open-source coding for multi-function and platform support. As a result, Perl is well integrated into websites and tools. As time passes, Python seems to be taking the place of Perl for the same function. Python is faster, streamlined for large amounts of text editing, and capable of powerful functions. However, before we take the leap into making a decision, let’s look through a more in depth comparison of the two.
Ask someone who’s worked with both Perl and Python what the most noticeable difference between the two is, and they will most likely reply “readability.” Perl, although designed for beginners to master, is consistently reported to look unreadable, especially compared to the sleek interface brought by Python. Editing code can be difficult enough. Having to decipher the code you’re trying to edit at the same time? That may be pushing it.
As mentioned early, Perl is designed to be a multi-faceted language. The idea behind this philosophy was that the language would grant a large amount of versatility to its users, allowing them to play with their code and organize it to their specifications.
Python, on the other hand, requires very straightforward, one-answer solutions. This may appear as if Python confines its users to certain boxes and methods of working. However, the “one way to do it” methodology actually proves beneficial in coding, particularly in the learning stages, as it establishes patterns. And, as many of us know, patterns are far easier to memorize and understand than trying to nail multiple different methods for the same thing.
Perl was originally a huge contributor to the number of tools utilized by websites. Websites such as Amazon and Craigslist tagged on to Perl’s amazing features to enhance their front-end experience.
However, as popularity with Perl has declined, Python’s tools and contributions from its open-source developers, have become increasingly popular with the newer websites. Therefore, Python is beginning to virtually take the place of Perl for the new age of the World Wide Web.
As the tech world grows in size and complexity, it appears that it is leaving Perl behind. Python is consistently listed as one of the easiest coding languages to learn. As the future progresses and more developments are made into everything you can do with coding and programming, Python is leading the curve as a powerful, easy-to-learn, and efficient language designed to handle large projects for a variety of circumstances.
When it comes to the two, it is safe to say that Python may be the better choice for future tech leaders like yourself. You will have a wonderful learning experience, and plenty to look forward to in your future.